Dear The Skipper,
Are you leaving us?
Alas, I am not just borrowing some sweats. My brief time as a Writer has come to a close, but before I go, here are some last reminiscences, expressions of gratitude, and unsolicited words of advice.
I studied Civil Engineering and loved it. It was fascinating and started me on a great career. But the things that made my university experience really rich were the perspective-changing and paradigm-shifting moments that came mostly in other classes and extracurricular activities. As you go through life, work to see things from other perspectives and to continually refine and expand your paradigm. Try new things, listen to others, and learn from everything you do and hear. I'm convinced that this is an essential part of the process of becoming that is the purpose of mortal life.
Civil engineering is all about improving quality of life, mainly through infrastructure that is invisible when working properly. Most of us have many blessings apart from infrastructure that are just as easy to take for granted. Try not to take them for granted, and try to be sensitive to others who might not have all of those same blessings. Don't feel guilty for having blessings, but do what you can to share them with others.
BYU and The Church are amazing organizations that do wonderful things for a lot of people. But although it can be painful to acknowledge, they all too often bring an accompanying culture and naivety that can be heartbreakingly and even harmfully ostracizing to people whose life situations don't line up exactly with the ideal Gospel trajectory. Please, please, please make sure you aren't doing anything to unintentionally contribute to that. You don't have to walk on eggshells, but be careful to avoid thoughtless comments and actions that can be deeply hurtful. Also, any betimes you are moved to reprove with sharpness should be few and far between and ONLY when prompted by the Spirit, and the accompanying increase of love should not be anomalous in frequency or intensity.
The Gospel is true. (By that I mean that the principles of the Gospel are absolute truth.) The Church is an imperfectly organized collection of imperfect individuals who, with a few exceptions, are doing their darndest to do the best they can for the eternal good of the human family. The difference is important. Also important is to remember that we have many, but not nearly all of the pieces of the absolute truth puzzle. Stay close to Jesus, and remember that despite its imperfections, this is His church and He leads it, although I think His leadership is a little more hands-off than we sometimes make it sound.
Thanks to all the Readers and Writers past and present for your insights and for making The Board so awesome. I'm sure I haven't contributed nearly as much as I've gained from this experience.
Finally, have fun with life. Assume that people are good. Respect others. Don't take yourself too seriously. Don't give up hope. If you are ever down, or need someone to talk to about anything, email me at email@example.com and I'll write back.